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February 01, 2010

Working Smart

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going

by Kevin Young

Our industry is littered with people who gave up on their dreams of building a self-sustaining business because someone somewhere told them that network marketing just doesn’t work. In fact, having a person of influence speak negatively about their chosen profession is one of the leading causes of turnover within the ranks of independent consultants. They give up before they ever get going.

The other major downfall of these would-be entrepreneurs is never having been taught how to properly go about their new business. If new recruits were instructed on the art of prospecting and overcoming objections, more people would be on their way to securing their personal dreams and fulfilling their financial goals.

Training new recruits on the do’s and don’ts of reaching out to others is critical. It’s important to get the recruit to training immediately after they sign up. What better time to begin than when they’re eager to act on their beliefs? Capitalize on that excitement; they’ll be much more open to learning how to methodically attain their goals.

Focus on Prospecting

The one aspect that I would like to focus on is coaching the new recruit to introduce his or her new business to others. For all but the most seasoned network marketers, this often is the biggest psychological hurdle a recruit faces. And yet it’s absolutely the most critical to succeeding.

Reaching out to others is sometimes so daunting that new recruits will focus on everything but prospecting. They’ll spend an inordinate amount of time learning about the product. They’ll research every nuance of the product to determine, down to an iota, how it is unique within the marketplace. They’ll busy themselves with the infrastructure of their new business. They’ll make exhaustive lists and plans. They’ll do everything except what’s most important: talk to others.

I saw this firsthand while overseeing sales training for a company that marketed unique home goods. The company had an impressive network of consultants, but sales were lagging. We hired an agency to help us find the choke point keeping the company from expanding more rapidly. We soon discovered that consultants were focusing nearly 45 percent of their time and energy on shipping and deliveries. Consequently, they were not as focused as they could have been on introducing the products and business opportunity to the broader community.

If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. It’s as simple as that. The new recruit’s upline should have a training program in place that introduces the budding entrepreneur to the lay of the land, so to speak. Which raises an age-old question within our industry: Who’s responsible for training new recruits—the company or the field?

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

The company has the responsibility to provide its field with everything it needs to generate sales. This includes collateral such as brochures, DVDs, product information, company Web sites and a consultant back office, corporate road tours, conference calls with the field, and so on. But since the field is where the rubber meets the road, it’s incumbent upon a new recruit’s upline to show them how to do the business. This is a people business. The new recruit was most likely approached by someone he or she knew. It’s all about relationships.

Recurrent training is an excellent way to help the new recruit begin to gain confidence in their newfound company. If the recruit is new to direct sales, training acclimates them to the business model and immediately introduces them to like-minded peers attempting to achieve the same self-sustaining business.

The fear of rejection can be an overpowering challenge. More likely than not, this fear stems from the recruit not focusing on the fact that he or she is in the business of helping others. That mindset is crucial to success.

A friend said a door-to-door salesman came to his house recently. When he opened the door, the young salesman said: “I was just at your next-door neighbor’s. He said you would have lunch ready by now.” My friend immediately started laughing. The man’s humor and ease of style indicated he thought he had a legitimate product that my friend needed to hear about. You know what? My friend took the time to listen to his presentation.

Don’t Give Up, Get Going

Network marketing companies are always striving to find ways to help their associates overcome the fear of rejection. RBC Life has implemented a pilot program called “Go for NO,” based on the work of Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz in their book by the same title. It’s proven that if a business builder persists in making contacts, his or her business volume will grow. The issue for new business builders is how to turn a negative (someone saying no) into a positive (a sign of progress).

RBC Life decided to encourage new business builders by rewarding those who persist in making new contacts and to re-approach prospects who previously had said no. Our three main objectives with the Go for NO pilot program is to reduce the associate fallout rate, to increase the growth of RBC Life sales and to increase the growth rate of participating individual business teams.

We’re targeting new business builders who have not yet achieved a certain qualifying volume of sales. The associate must make verbal contact with a prospect. We are encouraging participating, would-be business builders to re-approach these prospects over a given time interval. We believe the Go for NO program will provide team leaders with valuable information they can use to mentor new associates.

We’ve all seen the dismal economic news. Unemployment is higher today than it has been in a very long time. That means there are many more people aching for an opportunity to support themselves and their families. Remember that many of these people may have a misperception—or no perception at all—of our industry. Don’t let that be a deterrent. You’re offering them an opportunity. Never forget that. Some will say no. So what? Persistence pays.

Kevin Young is Director of Sales at RBC Life.